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Vets express concern over animal sentience pledge
Defra has pledged to ensure animal sentience is properly recognised in legislation before Brexit.
BVA says time is running out to enshrine new Animal Sentience Bill in law before Brexit

A pledge from the government to enshrine animal sentience in UK law ahead of Brexit has been cautiously welcomed by vets and animal welfare organisations.

On Tuesday (7 August), Defra announced that animal abusers who commit the most serious offenders will face up to five years in jail, compared to the current maximum sentence of six months. The announcement also contained a commitment to work with welfare organisations to ensure that animal sentience is properly recognised in legislation before Britain leaves the EU.

But the BVA, which has been working hard to enshrine animal sentience in UK law, has raised concern that there might not be enough time to introduce the Animal Sentience Bill before Brexit.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “It’s of course encouraging to see that the government is committed to enshrining animal sentience in law before we leave the EU, but with time running out the government must ensure that these words are translated into decisive action.
“Recognising animals as sentient beings sends a strong signal to the global community that the UK continues to be a world leader when it comes to animal welfare. It’s imperative that the government earmarks enough time in an increasingly crowded legislative agenda to bring it into law.”

Defra’s announcement comes in response to a consultation on the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill, which began in December 2017.

The consultation set out proposals to ensure animal sentience is properly reflected in law when Britain leaves the EU. But following a recommendation from the EFRA committee, legislation on sentencing will be brought forward separately so courts have the powers available to them.

In a statement echoing Mr Fishwick’s concerns, RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said:

“We are pleased that Defra has agreed with the RSPCA that the Bills relating to sentencing for animal cruelty and animal sentience should be separate. We welcome the proposed Bill to increase sentencing for animal cruelty and neglect from six months to five years by amending Section 32 of the Animal Welfare Act, as well as the introduction of a separate sentience Bill.

“However, as there are less than eight months to go before we leave the EU, we are concerned that time is running out for the Sentience Bill to be introduced and agreed before Brexit.”

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”